Digital utopia digital dystopia (DRAFT)
The 20th century view of privacy is no longer valid for the 21st century world. The digital transition has ushered in a world of complete surveillance – the questions now are more about who watches who – who is empowered to watch you, not 'should you be watched'.
Let's briefly look at where we are at. Who are we hiding from?
Do you carry a mobile phone?
- Your service provider will have a record of your movements to within 500m or better every minute or so that your phone is on.
- All the texts and phone conversations can easily be recorded by a 3rd party.
- If you have a smart phone it will be broadcasting a unique wifi and blue-tooth signal to all receivers as you carry it around.
- If you “lose” your phone, it will give details of all calls in and out, all texts, all web pages visited by web history and cache. It will give access to all your social networks, both open and secure, by apps and via the 'save password' option in the web phone browser. Thus someone has access to all your friends' social networks as well as your own, all the documents saved and, of course, your contacts book.
Do you surf the web?
- Every website you visit will have via your IP address a record of your location within a few km's.
- They can uniquely identify you through the browser configuration collected every time you visit a site.
- If you use a social network, then your life is an open book for both the corporations and any police government agency they provide the data too. They will know you and your social circles better than you do.
Do you go out in public in a city or town?
- Your image will be recorded on CCTV meany time's on each trip
- Do you use public buildings? All on CCTV
- They can use face recognition to identify you and track you
- Number plate recognition will track your car
- Everyone has a camera in their pockets – you are in the background of some of these millions of shots and many of them are on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you use a store card, credit or debit card?
- Every transaction creates data that tracks your movements and habits.
Do you go to political meeting or demonstrations?
- The police Fit team have many images of you from unflattering angles
- The police spy in your group has video/stills and audio from your meetings
- As does the corporate spy: any group that is worth anything will have one or more of them.
Do you use encrypted communication and secure activist websites?
- The keylogger has already captured your passwords for your encrypted/secure e-mail communication so that it is open to those you don’t want to read it.
- The nice site admin who helpfully builds all your secure activist websites is employed by MI5 or Special Branch, just like the helpful man with a van who drives you to the demonstrations.
- And if you think you can hide by obscuring your online life, the pattern matching algorithms will connect the dots – to reveal who you talk to, who they talk to and what you/they do.
For a comedy look at all this, the Onion is a good sources of news: http://www.theonion.com/articles/google-responds-to-privacy-concerns-with-unsettlin,16891/
As you can see all the “bad people” already watch your every move. When you try to hide in the modern world you are hiding from your friends, not your enemy. There are some cases where you can have a have a “semblance of privacy” - such as a teacher hiding their Facebook updates from the children they teach. Such limited privacy is mediated by the whim of the corporate owners – and in Facebook's and Google's case this is constantly changing.
I think it is too early to have a solution to this privacy debate, but it is high time to bring it into the wider public view. We hope this post is a vaccine that will make you a little “ill” so you can have the antibodies to fight off the worse social disease that is growing all around you.